Brussels, Jul 2005
A new report published in the US has underlined Asia's strengthening global position in research, revealing that the region is catching up with Europe and the US in terms of scientific output.
On 19 July, the EU published its 'Key Figures' on science, technology and innovation for 2005, which showed that China's research and development (R&D) intensity (the proportion of its GDP spent on research) could overtake that of the EU by 2010 if current trends continue.
This latest report, published by US-based Thompson Scientific, shows that Asian countries are also catching up in terms of scientific output, as measured by the proportion of global research papers published in each region. In 2004, countries in the Asia-Pacific region - including China, South Korea, Japan and India - produced 25 per cent of the world's scientific papers, up from 16 per cent in 1990.
By comparison, Europe's share of global research publications last year was 38 per cent. While this indicates that Europe currently leads the world in terms of scientific output, Commission analysts point out that this statistic can offer a false sense of security when one considers that the US publishes more papers per researcher than Europe, and with greater impact.
Despite this, the US also has good reason to be alarmed by the findings of the Thompson report. Last year, 33 per cent of the world's scientific papers originated from the US, but a US National Science Foundation (NSF) study in 2004 showed that the number of papers published in the US has remained relatively flat for the past decade, while the rest of the world has been producing more with each year.
Within Asia itself, the NSF study found that the scientific output of China, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan grew the most. Between 1988 and 2001, article output rose nearly fivefold in China, sixfold in Singapore and Taiwan, and by a factor of 14 in South Korea. During the same period, article output grew by a proportion of only 1.1 in the US, 1.6 in Europe, and 1.4 in the world as a whole.